What Expenses Can I Deduct As A 1099 Contractor?

If you're a freelancer, 1099 contractor, or entrepreneur then you are eligible to claim tax write-offs that salaried employees don't get access to. Tell us what you do for work, and explore your deductions below.

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Managing a business has a lot of costs. If you don’t report those on your taxes, it’ll eat into your profits. That's why you should start tracking your business expenses so you can deduct them on your tax bill. 

The most common question we get at Keeper Tax is, “What expenses can I deduct as a 1099 contractor?”

Use this article as a resource to find deductions to your 1099-MISC tax bill.

Top 11 Tax Deductions For Independent Contractors

The expenses you can deduct as a 1099 contractor can vary depending on your professions or the field you're working in. It would be beneficial to look into some of the specific deductions you can take for your line of work. We offer a ton of tax guides for writers, real estate agents, construction workers, Uber drivers, and more. 

Here are the 11 most common write-offs you can make as a 1099 contractor that you can’t afford to miss!

1. Business meals

A meal qualifies as a business expense write-off when you're traveling for business, meeting to discuss business, attending a sales pitch, or entertaining a client. 

It has to be business-related in order to quality as a taxable expense. 

Normally, you could only deduct 50% of the meal's cost. But in 2021 and 2022, business meals at restaurants are now 100% tax-deductible!

Sounds pretty sweet, right? To learn more, check out our more detailed guide to business meal deductions.

2. Car expenses

If you drive your car for business, you can deduct some of the costs from your taxes.

There's one important thing to know about car expenses: there are two ways you can deduct them, the actual expense method and the standard mileage method.

Here's a quick breakdown of what these mean.

Actual expenses are things like:

Standard mileage, on the other hand, can only only be used to deduct the miles you drive for work — at the standard rate provided by the IRS, of course. The 2021 rate was $0.56. 

If you choose actual expenses, you can't deduct mileage. So it's important to choose the method that will give you the biggest tax deduction.

Here's a rule of thumb: if your business requires you to drive a lot, go the mileage deduction route. If you don’t have to drive that much, the actual expenses will probably be your best choice.

Check out our in-depth guide on writing off car expenses.

3. Home office

If there is a space in your home that you only use for business, you can deduct it from your taxes. The area could be a traditional home office, a storage zone for your online store, or even a home gym where you see personal training clients — anything business-related

With this deduction, you'll be able to write off a portion of all your home expenses, like rent, home insurance, and even home goods like toilet paper.

4. Travel expenses

If you travel for business, there are a whole lot of deductions you can make to your tax bill.

Just remember, travel expenses have to be business-related. You can't expect to deduct expenses that are for personal purposes or extraordinarily extravagant (I’m lookin’ at you bottle service…).

 Here is a list of travel expenses you can possibly deduct from your tax bill if it is for business:

  • Business meals (50% of the cost!)
  • Parking expenses
  • Flight, train or bus ride tickets
  • Airbnb or hotel costs
  • Phone expenses (i.e. an international SIM card)
  • Laundry costs
  • Vehicle expenses

Take a look at our guide to business travel deductions for more information.

5. Internet and phone bills

You can deduct your internet and phone bills from your tax bill — but not entirely. Why? Because you're likely to use these services for both business and personal purposes.

Here's an example of how this works. Say you use your phone for business purposes 50% of the time. The rest of the time, you'll texting your friends, watching YouTube, and online shopping. In that case, you can only deduct half of your phone bill.

If you are unsure of your percentage, you can be on the safe side by taking a slightly lower deduction. Why? Because if you say you use your phone for business 80% of the time, you're more likely to set off some red flags at the IRS and get audited.

6. Educational expenses

When you run your own business, it's crucial to invest in maintaining or improving your skills. If you don't, your business could be toast. That's why the IRS lets self-employed people write off qualified education expenses. 

You can write off educational expenses like classes, textbooks, tuition, newspaper subscriptions, events related to your profession. 

Everything you write off, however, has to be ordinary for your field or work and related to your business. If you're a writer, for example, you can't deduct weekly karate classes from your tax bill. It wouldn’t make sense.

Check out our guide to educational tax deductions for a more detailed breakdown (and plenty of examples)!

7. Supplies and materials

As a 1099 contractor, you're probably going to need some supplies and materials to run your business. Luckily, you can deduct the amount you spend on them each calendar year.

Office supplies like pens, Post-its, and paperclips are fully deductible regardless of how much you used. Other deductible materials will depend on what you do for work. If you are a kitchen remodeler, for instance, you can deduct the tools you need on the job.

Bottom line: If you need something to do your work, then it’s deductible.

8. Advertising

All advertising costs are generally fully tax-deductible. The cost of promoting yourself, your services, and your products products are included.

This deduction can be a lot more flexible than most freelancers realize. The cost of printing flyers business cards, running Google and Facebook ads, and attending trade shows are all tax-deductible. So is the cost of hiring a PR agency or a freelance marketer to run promotions for you.

9. Parking

The IRS allows you to deduct parking expenses. If you regularly pay for parking over the course of your independent contract work, those fees can easily add up.

Of course, you can only take this deduction if your client isn't including parking reimbursement on any 1099-MISC they file for you. You have to pay for parking yourself.

There's one extra tip to keep in mind: Unfortunately, parking tickets don't count as a write-off here.

10. Contract labor

If you need freelance copywriters, graphic designers, or any other type of independent contractor to help you run your business, you can write off their fees on your taxes.

If you paid out a contractor $600 or more over the course of the year, you'll also have to file Form 1099-MISC for them.

11. Business startup costs

What counts as a business startup cost? These are the expenses you incur while you're creating an active trade or business — or investigating the creation (or purchase) of an active trade or business.

If your business is just starting out, you can deduct up to $5,000 of your business startup costs — along with $5,000 of organizational costs. (Organizational costs are simply the costs in forming a corporation, partnership, or LLC. You don't need to pay them for a sole proprietorship.)

Business startup costs can cover market research, planning, advertising, and even the cost of hiring a business mentor, consultant, or coach.

Now you know the top 11 write-offs for self-employed people. But there's plenty more to discover, depending on what you do for work.

As an independent contractor, it's crucial to take advantage of all the write-offs you quality for. Otherwise, you're in for a nasty surprise at tax time. If you want a tool to automatically find and track all your expenses for you, click here to get started.

Software

Photoshop, Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Cloud - whatever you use for your craft.

Website expenses

Website hosting fees, plugins, stock photos, and themes are tax deductible!

Electronics

A new computer, cell phone, keyboard, printer, monitor, mouse, it all counts!

Notebooks, pencils

Notebooks, sketchpads, pens, pencils, paper, stencils, paperclips galore!

Part of your rent

Whether you pay rent or own your home, a portion of those expenses are tax deductible.

Water bill

It'd be hard to work in an office without running water, huh? You water bill counts.

Power bill

Gotta keep the lights on in your home office! A portion of your electricity bill counts.

Property insurance

Whether rental or homeowner insurance, you can write off a portion as part of home office.

Wifi bill

Your comcast bill is a tax write off. You need internet to do your job!

Home office furniture

A desk, chairs, lamps, and other home office necessities are all tax write offs.

Health insurance

If you are self-employed, you can write off your medical and dental insurance coverage.

Meals while traveling

When you're traveling for work, all meals are tax-deductible. Even takeout!

Lodging

When you travel for work, lodging expenses like hotel rooms and Airbnbs are write-offs.

Transportation

Planes, trains, and car rentals are all work-related travel costs that can be written off.

Gas

Gas is expensive! A portion of your gas station fill ups are tax-deductible.

Car maintenance

Oil changes, repairs, and regular checkups are all tax-deductible if you drive for work.

Insurance & registration

Car insurance, roadside assistance, registration costs, etc. are all tax-deductible.

Parking

Parking for a meeting downtown or other work trip is tax-deductible!

Tolls

A toll while driving to or from a work destination is tax-deductible!

Meals for work

If you discuss work with a coworker, client, or even a friend, it's a write-off!

Conferences & classes

Conferences and classes that help you keep up with the industry are tax deductible.

Business cards

Business cards & brochures are a marketing costs that can fully written off on taxes.

Legal fees

If you've had to set up an LLC or have other legal fees for work, that's tax deductible.

Commissions paid

Commissions you pay to other agents or employees are fully deductible business expenses.

Desk fees

If you're with a national franchise or an independent broker, desk fees are deductible.

Education & training

Registration fees and materials for courses like BOLD or GREL are tax deductible.

Property marketing

Online and newspaper ads, photography, staging, and signage are all tax deductible.

Office supplies

Office-related purchases like stationery, photocopies, and monitors are tax deductible.

Licences & fees

Your state license renewal, MLS dues, and professional memberships, are deductible.

Business, E&O Insurance

General business, as well as Errors and Omissions (E&O), insurance are tax deductible!

Productivity software

Lead generation software, like CRM or marketing automation software, is tax deductible.

Car wash & cleaning

To deliver a great experience to your passengers, you need to keep a clean car!

Spotify / Sirius XM

Good tunes in your car is part of delivering a great experience to your passengers!

Passenger goodies

Water bottles, gum & other goodies help a great experience to your passengers.

Car floor mats

Floor mats keep the car clean and passengers happy (and prevent weekly car cleanings!)

Car payments

If you're still paying down your car, you can claim those expenses!

Vehicle depreciation

If you drive you own vehicle, you can write off the annual depreciation of it's value!

Phone & accessories

If you use your phone for work (who doesn't?) then it's partially deductible.

Extra chargers

If you've bought extra chargers to juice in parallel, those are tax deductible!

Electricity costs

If you charge at home, part of your monthly electricity bill is tax deductible.

Gloves & wipes

Equipment that helps you do pickups and handle the scooters is tax deductible.

Partial rent (Garage)

If you charge your scooters in the garage, then you can claim home office tax deduction!

Platform search placements

Sponsored search placements on Amazon, Etsy, etc are deductible advertising expenses!

Email software

Costs for email services like Mailchimp are a tax deductible marketing expense.

Online Advertising

Every dollar you spend on Facebook Ads, Google Adwords, etc. is a tax deductible expense!

Platform commissions

Online seller platforms take an arm and a leg on every sale. You can deduct those costs!

Materials & equipment

Sell hand-embroidered t-shirts? The cloth, labels and sewing machine are deductible!

Labor costs

If you employ people that help your business, that's tax deductible!

Inventory costs

Any inventory costs from product that have been sold are tax deductible!

Industry education

Online courses, summits, membership site subscriptions, workshops, etc are tax deductible!

Card processing fees

The 2.75% (give or take) fee that you pay your payment processors ads up. It's deductible!

Photography equipment

Cameras, video camera, lenses, lighting, tripods, used for work are all tax deductible!

Shipping & packaging

Boxes, packing tape, bubble wrap, and postage fees — all of it's deductible!

Contractors

If you're lucky enough to be able to afford designers or researchers, it's deductible!

Phone bill

Your monthly phone bills are expensive! Good thing the cost is partially deductible.

Research materials

If you write about ancient Greece and buy an urn, it's deductible! (and weird)

Doodoo bags

Poop bags, as well as the little dispensers, are tax deductible work expenses!

Walking shoes

Dog walking requires... a lot of walking! If bought walking shoes, it's deductible!

Rain gear

Dogs need to be walked rain or shine! Rain gear bought for the job is deductible.

Dog treats

If you buy extra treats for the dogs you walk, you can write that off on your taxes!

Tennis balls

Tennis balls, and other toys you buy for the dogs you walk are tax deductible!

Leash or harness

If you've had to buy extra leashes or harnesses, those purchases are tax deductible!

Bike expenses

If you bike to get to and from your dog walking clients, it and repairs are deductible.

Public transportation

Public transportation expenses to / from your dog walking clients are deductible!

Credit Card Interest

If you use a credit card to purchase business goods, you can write off the interest!

Hosting Essentials

Grabbing fresh sheets, towels, or even just toilet paper for your guests can be deducted!

Maintenance or Redesign

Write off anything related to keeping your rental space safe and cozy!

Guest Amenities & Treats

Treating your guests pays off! Write off that bottle of wine or house breakfast.

Platform Service Fees

The percentage AirBNB takes for every guest? Don't worry you'll get it back in write offs!

Mortgage Interest

When your income comes from renting part of your house, write off the mortgage interest!

Cleaning Services

Cleaning up doesn't sound so bad after you know you can deduct it from your taxes!

Data Storage

Storage to handle heavy digital files (business related) such as Dropbox or a hard drive.

Clothing and Beauty Products

Any clothing or beauty products used to review or just look your best for content.

App Fees

Live webcasting apps or creative apps that help you look flawless and reach your audience.

Personalized Merchandise

Anything you order to show off your personal brand: Tshirts, stickers, mugs, etc.

Prizes for Giveaways

If you want to reward your followers with a prize or giveaway, go ahead and write it off!

Creative and Editing Software

Write off any software you use for video and photo editing or content creation.

Creative Assistance Costs

If you need to hire an editor, designer, or set assistance to help you, write it off!

Video Equipment

Videocameras, mics, tripods, lenses, anything used to create content, you can write off.

Fitness Equipment

If you are a fitness vlog, write off all those mats, weights, and other equipment used!

Food & Cooking Supplies

Focused on food or cooking? Write off all the supplies needed to produce your video.

Self Promotion Material

Audition tapes, portfolios, business cards. Write off anything used to promote yourself.

Agency Commisions

Deduct any commision that the agency hiring you takes from every shoot or show.

Beauty Supplies

Make up, hair treatments, or beauty supplies used for work are partially deductible!

Coaching and Class Fees

Any expense from a modeling coach or other relevant training can be written off.

Union Dues

Your regular dues to participate in a union in your field can be written off.

Writing Software

Word and other editing software are 100% necessary for your job, write it off!

Dues & Subscriptions

Pay to be a member of any writers organizations? Write off that annual fee.

Relevant Books

Write off any books that help you manage your business or that are relevant to your field!

Transaction Fees

If PayPal or another payment method charged a fee for buying your book, write it off!

Performance Tickets

Seeing a show or performance counts as research, study up and write it off.

Agent or Manager Fees

If an agent is helping you find gigs, deduct their fees from your next taxes.

Films & Streaming Accounts

That's right, Netflix is also a write-off! Films are considered research for your job.

Performance Make-Up & Hair

Write off beauty supplies or treatments if they were related to a performance.

Clothing & Costumes

As long as it is not considered suitable for "streetwear" it can be written off!

Educational Props

Props you use to make class more exciting and easy to understand are deductible!

Student Reward System

Rewards systems, which are created for our students, are very much tax write-offs.

Classroom Decor

ESL companies require teachers to have a decorated classroom which is our home office.

Commission & Fees

If you work for a delivery app service and they charge commission, write it off.

Merchandise & Uniform

Required to wear a delivery app's merchandise? Write-off the shirts and bags!